I hate decorating. I really hate decorating. It’s not that I’m lazy or I don’t want my home to look good. It’s just so….primitive. There have been all these advances in science, technology and medicine but when it comes to our homes, we’re content to throw some paint on the wall like Stone Age cave art. Prefer wallpaper? It originated in China before becoming popular in Europe during the 15th century, and as for tiles, the Romans were a dab hand at mosaics 2,000 years ago. All modern innovations then.
Decorating’s a bit like putting lipstick on a pig as homes are so badly designed and built. Fundamentally, houses haven’t changed in over a couple of centuries but I’ll give you central heating and cavity walls if you really want. Let’s take a look at the average UK home and the ways they’re bodged to meet an acceptable standard.
- plastering – a house can’t be built with straight walls or a good finish so we have to trowel plaster on top to make it look acceptable.
- skirting boards – the walls don’t meet the floor neatly so we have to use skirting boards to hide the messy join.
- tiles – they’re stuck on so permanently they have to be smashed to get them off and it’s back to plastering.
- doorframes – all the fancy woodwork around a door because we can’t figure out how to put a hole in a wall without it being a mess.
- central heating – a boiler heats hot water to 60C to pass through radiators to then heat the air in a room to 20C. How can that be efficient? – just heat the air directly, and there’s far less mess if there’s a leak.
- light switches, light fittings and power sockets – can’t move them without specialists and then you have to decorate all over again once they’ve made a mess.
Domestic homes are junk. I’ve seen better designed Lego buildings. Businesses didn’t put up with the inflexibility and got air management, raised floors, suspending ceilings and trunking.
Of course, it’s all down to vested interests. For the UK, the British Coatings Federation reckons paint is a £3.2 billion industry of which 65% is decorative. The UK plumbing industry is £17bn. If ever there was a market ripe for disruption and innovation it’s the domestic housing market. Builders build as many homes as they can as cheaply as possible and there’s such a shortage of new homes in the UK that they can get away with it.
I’m not asking for a “smart home”, but a flexible quality structure that better meets the needs of people in the 21st century. How about it Apple? Design a better home….that sounds right up your street.